Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Kesari (Keshar) Bhaat / Sweet Saffron Rice.

Traditional Kesari (Keshar) Bhaat / Sweet Saffron Rice / Meetha Kesari chawal ….. For Naivedyam ….. Celerbrating Guru Poornima ….. Stay Blessed ….. 

Kesari (Keshar) Bhaat / Sweet Saffron Rice is a famous sweet rice dish prepared almost all round India though the names differ. A royal dish which stands out on its own, by and large prepared during marriages and other celerbrations. The dish is considered royal as the ingredients that goes into making of the dish are all costly and hence it was a royalty to prepare the same for invitees. 

The rice is infused in the flavour of kesar meaning saffron in English during the cooking process which imparts a golden yellow colour and has a distinct flavour of its own. It is known as kesari bhat for that very reason as because of the added kesar (saffron) it not only gives a good golden colour to the dish but also a very sweet smellI prepare this many times during festive seasons as my family simply loves this and also it can be relished on its own without any side dishes. This sweet rice is also known as shakar bhaat or meetha chawal in and around Maharashta.

The variety of rice used differs from place to place. We south Indians prepare this with Jeera Rice while many prefer preparing the same with basmati rice, but you can use any other white rice suitable to you and available in your vicinity. The trick for a good Kesari bhaat is the rice should not be cooked soft, it should not be mushy and the grains should remain separate. As long as you manage that then there is nothing to worry about the final product. I have already posted the recipe long back in this blog, The recipe remains the same by and large with minute changes.

Jeera / Basmati Rice : 1 cup
Sugar : 1 ¼ cup.
Cashew Nuts : 10-15 halves.
Raisins : 12-15
Cloves / Lavang : 6-7
Cardamom Powder : ½ tsp
Saffron 1 tsp.
Milk : 2 tblsp.
Orange Colour (Optional) : 2 pinches.
Ghee : 2 tblsp.
Water : 1- ¼ cup + ¼ cup.

Wash the rice and soak in plenty of water for 10-15 minutes. Drain in a colander. Add 1 tsp of ghee in the pressure cooker and when its hot add in a pinch orange colour and then the drained rice. Mix well add in 1- ¼ cup of water, cover with the lid and pressure cook on medium heat for 2 whistles.

Let the pressure drop on its own. When you are able to open the lid, do so and let the excess steam pass off completely. Do not attempt to touch the rice at this stage. As then it may get mushy. Let cool for a good 10-15 minutes. Once it has cooled down with the help of a large fork separate the cooked rice grains. You will get nicely separated rice as we have added in less water and cooked it to the consistency of 80% only. Keep this aside.

Add the saffron in a small bowl with warm milk. It will impart a nice yellow colour when fully soaked. Keep this ready aside. If not adding Orange colour you can increase the saffron threads. Keep the cardamom powder, raisins and cashew nuts ready.

Now heat the remaining ghee in a thick bottomed kadai, when hot, lower the heat and add in cashew nut pieces and fry them to slightly brown in colour, the add in the raisins, mix well till the raisins gets swollen to nice small round balls, do not over fry now for more time as they may then turn brown which will turn it a little bitter in taste. Remove immediately and keep them aside for garnishing later on.

Crush the cloves a little bit so that it imparts flavour on its addition. Now proceed in the same kadai, by adding in the cloves to the hot remaining ghee and a pinch of orange colour (Optional).

Now lower the heat and add in ¼ cup of water and then raise the heat to bring it to a boil.

Once the water comes to a boil, add in the sugar and mix well. Cook on medium heat till the sugar thickens a little bit, say for 5-7 minutes. You should get the syrup to 1 thread consistency.

Once the sugar is done, add in the saffron along with the milk its soaked in, the cooked rice and mix well. Cook the rice on medium heat for about 2-3 minutes. Now lower the heat to minimum and cover the kadai with a tight lid and cook till all the moisture has evaporated. 

Lastly when almost done, add in the fried cashews, raisins, cardamom powder and mix well. Check in to see that there is no moisture left at the bottom of the kesari bhaat mixture, if so allow to cook uncovered on low heat for some time. 

When done allow to cool a little bit. This tastes best at room temperature. You will now notice that each rice particle will glisten like gold. This is how a traditional “Kesari Bhaat” finally turns out. Each rice particles should get coated with the kesari sugar syrup and glisten alike while remaining separate.

You can offer this to God as Naivedyam which is what I do and then offer them to your family and guests. Enjoy this delicious Kesari (Keshar) Bhaat / Sweet Saffron Rice / Meetha Kesari Chawal at room temperature. The names are may be different as per different cultures but the result I feel is the same with minute differences. Almost everyone offers them as Naivedyam / bhog during Puja and Festivals.

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